Thursday, April 07, 2011

Mixed Emotions

Spring is always a time of mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, it is sad to see the departure of some of the birds that have wintered in our area and to know that we won't see them again until the late fall or winter. On the other hand, it's exciting to see new birds moving in and to watch our residents getting ready for their main nesting season. It's invigorating, too, to watch plants emerging from their winter torpor to burst into blossom and to see the insects that emerge to take advantage of the new plant growth.

Almost all of our winter visitor birds have gone now. The Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Orange-crowned Warblers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have moved north. When I've walked around the college campus this week, I've noticed that the flocks of Yellow-rumped Warblers have left, although the odd individual is still lingering.

Most of our winter sparrows have also moved on. The only ones I've seen lately were a couple of Chipping Sparrows that visited our yards on the weekend.

On the brighter side, our Downy Woodpeckers have been mating, while we've noticed our House Finches and Northern Cardinals have started passing food to each other, which is a pre-mating bonding ritual. Meanwhile, male Northern Mockingbirds have been singing and displaying to attract females.

I mentioned some days ago on most days I've seen a of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks circling the college campus. Well, on Monday dozens of Whistling Ducks arrived. 

At one point it seemed that they were on every lamppost in the parking lots and even on the fences surrounding the construction work area. 

If we're lucky, several pairs will nest around the retention ponds again this year.

Evening Primrose and thistles are popping up all over the campus.


Honeysuckle seems to be thriving and its scent is almost overpowering along the nature trail.

While mosquitoes haven't appeared yet, other insects have been turning up in numbers, including several different species of butterflies.



So what comes next? I'm hoping the answer is that our summer-resident Western Kingbirds will arrive in the next week or two. If this year is like previous ones, several pairs of these beautiful birds should appear soon and should nest in various sites around the campus, including in the roof of the basketball court. In addition to watching out for the Kingbirds, I'll be watching our Purple Martin houses. Half-a-dozen Martins have already taken up residence there and I'm sure they'll be joined by others over the coming days.

No comments: